In this niche of the EU, a weekly visit to the local market to buy fresh and other stuff is still common. When I visited today, I followed my usual routine.
First a visit to the Moroccan baker’s stall, where familiar and unfamiliar cakes and cookies beckon to be bought. Against the wall, fresh bread in all sizes and forms stands in neat rows. To the left are discount baskets filled with a selection of international breads and sweets. Piles of Dutch white rolls, Moroccan pancakes, German Bretzels; French baguettes and croissants, Turkish pides, Greek pittas, a variety of doughnuts and much, much more try to seduce.
Right opposite, the fish market starts. It’s one long row of stalls full of all kinds of local and foreign fish. They’re sold whole, in large parts, small pieces, and assorted mixes of bits. Salmon heads did 5 Euro a piece. There were tins, trays, baskets overflowing with mussels, oysters, periwinkles. Others were filled with razor, Saint Jacob, Venus, or other shellfish.
A large bucket drew my attention. I peered inside. It was full of tiny grey crabs. The majority danced tarantella-wise over and around each other, snapping aggressively with their claws. These bravoes were bound to end up boiled today.
At the end of this long row, a stall sells freshly fried fish and rolls stuffed with shrimps, herring, or mackerel. There’s always a long queue waiting to be served. However, I prefer to stand at the busy counter of Anatolya, which comes next. They sell bread in different sizes too, but also Turkish Köfte, Surinam Bara, Baklava, and other delights.
I always buy a Lahmacun – baked right in front of me. Once out of the oven, a variety of salads and stuffing to your liking are spread over the thin layer of spicy meat and bread. Harissa and garlic sauce are added. Then it’s rolled up, wrapped in tin-foil and a napkin, and handed over. The bakers know my preference: stuffed with everything; normal harissa, double garlic dose.
While I was waiting, a beautiful Indian woman joined me at the counter.
“Single’s recipe!” she ordered.
The baker and I stared. Turned out she meant my Lahmacun version.
“Free advice from me,” she told us, “only singles take double garlic. You watch.”
The baker and I were flabbergasted.
Never before had we considered his stall to be a marriage market.